Sunday, March 3, 2013
We have recently returned from an unexpected trip to the UK to see an ailing Parent/Grandparent. International travel is endlessly fascinating for me. We get out of our bubble. Hear many different languages. Experience different cultures, money, food and fashion. It reminds me of the larger world and all it's wonders.
One moment has stuck in my head. It happened in the airport as we stood at the gate for security drinking our water before surrendering it as contraband. Next to us a family were saying their goodbyes. It was a younger couple and the women's parents. I will guess they were Indian. The mother and father wore traditional clothes. Mom had a beautiful lilac sari and Dad a simple shalwar kameez. The younger couple were in western clothes. The parents were leaving. The parting was incredibly intense and emotional. I supposed that they see each other rarely and miss their daughter intensely. We stood twenty feet from them but they drew me close with their energy. Their goodbye lasted several minutes and included exchanges between father and daughter, father and son in law, mother and daughter and mother and son in law.
They were just like any other family parting from each other - except - not one word was exchanged between them. The entire farewell was conducted by head gestures. It was a most beautiful thing to have seen. They communicated their love and longing to each other with their eyes and their head bobs. It was a perfectly choreographed ballet. I have seen this head movement many times before. Today I googled it and found it means yes, no and maybe and perhaps all three at once. I learned it's history which relates to the times of British controlled India. It was an interesting read but in no way reflective of what I witnessed.
I saw such closeness, such familiarity, love and a complicit understanding that was so deeply personal to these four people that they needed no words to express it. I felt intrusive in this intensely private but public moment. I was reminded, as I often am in airports, of the opening sequence to the film Love Actually which I watch every so often to remember that people come and go in our lives but love remains. Watching that family helped me with our goodbyes - I am so grateful for having seen it.